The Living Area – An exploratory approach to awake empathy in female youth in public urban areas


    Public urban spaces are often misused and vandalised, as people in the neighbourhood do not feel responsibility and emotional engagement towards them. This project started in collaboration with the municipality in Malmö, who wanted an interactive concept for a, not yet built, public activity area in Rosengård, Malmö focusing on young girls as its primary users. The theme for this project was ‘Embodied interaction’, so it had to involve a high level of physical interaction from the users.

    The project idea is based on the basic human quality; empathy – the ability to care about other living things. The hypothesis was that by appealing to the public area users’ sense of empathy, we would create emotional engagement and a feeling of ownership among the users. In order to succeed in this, it was evident that the area should be brought to life somehow. The notion of a public area that could act and react according to the presence and behaviour of the users quickly became the idea that suited our hypothesis the best.

    Through a participatory and exploratory design process involving both the municipality and residents in Rosengård, a prototype was designed, implemented and in the end tested at a Christmas market situated in Rosengård. The findings from this project is discussed and the end of this paper.

    Embodied interaction, participatory design, exploratory design, empathy


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